Why vets won’t be watching ‘I’m a Celebrity… Get me Out of Here!’
Vets say that they will be switching over their TV channels over from ITV’s ‘I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here’ due to serious, ongoing concerns around the welfare of animals used in tasks on the show.
As season 19 of the reality television series hits our screens on Sunday, the British Veterinary Association (BVA) is reinforcing its call for producers to review the use and treatment of reptiles and other exotic species on the show.
Since ‘I’m a Celebrity’ first aired in the UK in 2002, it has attracted huge levels of concerns and complaints from the public, celebrities and animal welfare organisations.
This fresh round of criticism from the UK veterinary community follows an open letter sent to the show’s producers by BVA earlier in the year. BVA says that in every example cited in the letter (which included a 2018 episode featuring a snake as part of a contestant task showing signs of distress), a compliance with the 2006 Animal Welfare Act ‘duty of care’ did not appear to be displayed. It says that vets’ concerns relate both to the treatment of the animals on the show and this treatment being inadvertently promoted as acceptable to the public.
BVA is also urging viewers to think carefully about purchasing an exotic pet such as a lizard, snake or bearded dragon due to the often-misunderstood levels of care that these types of pets need in order to meet their health and welfare requirements.
In a 2019 survey of the profession, vets reported that half of the exotic pets they had seen (49%) were not having their five animal welfare needs met.
Husbandry of reptiles and snakes can be difficult and factors such as the correct level of heat, UV light, appropriate living environment, humidity, and appropriate diet is essential throughout the life of most reptiles, which can often live anywhere between 10-15 years, depending on the species. Leopard geckos, for example, can live up to 15 years. Snakes can also live a long time with the royal python, a popular pet choice, living over 20 years. Snakes also commonly suffer with obesity issues due to incorrect diets and lack of exercise and space.
Commenting on the show, BVA President and exotic pet vet, Daniella Dos Santos said:
“‘I’m a Celebrity’ has had a long and chequered track record of animals showing clear signs of distress while used in tasks and as an exotics vet, I remain very concerned about the welfare of those used in this year’s series. Caring for pets such as snakes and reptiles is not as simple as it seems as these animals have very specific welfare needs and are often not comfortable at all with being handled, particularly in a rough fashion as has often been displayed in past series.
“The welfare of animals used on television or other media outlets should be of the highest standard as this can influence public behaviours and views on appropriate treatment of animals.
“As a veterinary body that represents over 18,000 vets across the UK, I am confident that many of our members will share my concerns and will be joining us in a mass ‘I’m a Celeb’ switch-off.”